Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is anticipating a much tighter world championship battle with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg during 2016.
The German finished third in the Drivers’ Championship standings last season, 44 points behind compatriot Rosberg and 103 off eventual winner Hamilton.
The Scuderia were also some way behind Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship standings, eventually finishing 275 points adrift of the German outfit, but Vettel is anticipating a much closer battle this season.
He said: “I think we are closer than last year, especially in the race.
“The question is whether we are ready in time. But we are making progress. We did so last year and we have made a step over the winter, whether it is big enough I think we need to wait until the first couple of races and see.”
Four-times world champion Vettel has earmarked an improvement in qualifying as Ferrari’s best chance to close the gap on Mercedes, as the Italian outfit have only secured five pole positions over the last six years.
He added: “Usually qualifying pace is all about raw pace so by trying to make our package quicker, our car quicker, our engine quicker we enhance our chances to do well in qualifying.”
The first race of the season is due to get under way in Australia this weekend and Vettel is available at 5.50 to secure a victory in Melbourne, whilst Mercedes duo Hamilton and Rosberg are on offer at 1.80 and 3.20 respectively.